we murder to dissect
I gave AI Dungeon a Geoffrey Hill poem as a prompt, and it wrote this (I added the line-breaks, the rest is verbatim as it came out):

The king has landed his hordes from the sky.
He and his dead stand upon the golden roof
of a thousand towers. A half-century of conquest
could not have built such walls, for nothing
could have found the strength in the earth.
But with dead labor, the work goes swiftly

The forests of England are cleared.
Their timbers dragged, and harrows drawn through the stubble.
The woodsmaster and his magic drawls of bone
run down the buildings, slinging up stones and drawing them
with endless streams of laborers.

"My King, the books say that in order for it to hold
they would have to be wide and thick enough
to take the weight of stone." The reader glances at you,
you nod your head. The stones are laid,
two deep and three apart.
They take up the slack, so that there is no sound
of splintering wood or cracking stone.

But there is no more wood. The mills of the realm
are stripped bare, and our ships burn
even as they are unloaded. With our fleet,
we could have blockaded them.
With our fleet, we could have starved them.
But there was no point, for by the time our ships
returned to England, the Norman ships had already sailed.

So England waits. We wait with sword and rifle,
and behind it all is our wall. There will be no more
burning of crops or setting of towns on fire.
They will have to come to us. But that is alright.

For in our walled halls, we can keep the starvation
from their lands, and the plague from their shores.
As I write this, I can hear the endless grating of stone on stone.
The wind blows, and the rain pelts my face.
But I will not leave this wall. For within these four walls,
there is a song. Here is where the true might of England lies.
The story that will be told is not of the collapse
of the British Empire, but of the resurgence
of the Empire of the Dead.

I am but a song, but I am an important one.
I will live on in the pages of history.
Here is the legacy of England.


Well-known member
I am but a song, but I am an important one

captures his blowhard quality. I like the first line a lot. The whole thing works. How exactly does it work though? And what was the original poem?


we murder to dissect
The original poem was “Merlin”, from “For The Unfallen”:

I will consider the outnumbering dead
for they are the husks of what was rich seed.
Now, should they come together to be fed
they would outstrip the locusts’ covering tide.

Arthur, Elaine, Mordred, they are all gone
among the raftered galleries of bone -
by the long barrows of Logres they are made one
and over their city stands the pinnacled corn.

GPT-3 works like a sort of autocomplete on steroids - you give it a prompt and it churns out a continuation in a similar style, by mashing up text from an enormous corpus. You can have a play with it here - - it acts as a sort of dungeon master for fantasy adventures.

I made a recording of the generated poem, in my best Very Serious Poet voice:



Well-known member
how does it recognise the style though? and is it generated all these sentences frim individual word units? i searched google for

The forests of England are cleared.
Their timbers dragged, and harrows drawn through the stubble.

and nothing came up so it's written that by itself?


we murder to dissect
It recognises patterns in written language at various levels of scale - individual word combinations, common sentence shapes, thematic connections between words that often appear close by each other - and weaves new material randomly out of those patterns. Its predecessor, GPT-2, was already good at writing sentences with correct-looking syntax, and connecting the theme of one sentence with the next. GPT-3 does the same only in a sort of more context-aware way. It’s quite spooky. In a way, it’s rambling around the collective unconscious (as represented by its training set, an enormous sample of everything that’s ever been written down), throwing up connections and patterns. So if you give it a GH poem with a doomy mystic nationalist undertone, that defines the region it initially gets plonked down in the middle of.

It’s a bit disturbing that human language can be mathematically factored out in this way, such that a machine with no idea what any of it means can discern different semantic zones, different areas of connected meaning, purely by observing patterns and juxtapositions. I’ve seen one lot of people going “this is terrifying, our AI overlords are here” and another lot of people going “this is all hype, it’s just mindless statistical prestidigitation”, and the truth I think is neither of these - the truth is that it’s showing just how much of meaning resides in pattern, how much meaning-ness can be reproduced just by mechanically operating at the level of the signifier.


is not like other people
Pity Hill is dead and we'll never read a sniffy takedown of exactly why he would never have written such pastiche.


Well-known member
i want to feed my gibberish into it but i cant work out how. it just gives me adventure game prompts


we murder to dissect
King of the perennial holly-groves, the riven sandstone: overlord of the M5: architect of the historic rampart and ditch, the citadel at Tamworth, the summer hermitage in Holy Cross: guardian of the Welsh Bridge and the Iron Bridge: contractor to the desirable new estates: saltmaster: moneychanger: commissioner for oaths: martyrologist: the friend of Charlemagne. ‘I liked that,' said Offa, ‘sing it again.'

"Yes, yes, I did too. It was very good. Very good indeed." "You are a poet," you say. "A very fine one, too. You should be writing poetry rather than playing with your dolls." Offa laughs. "No, no, not at all! I am only doing my bit as an artist. And besides, I have been thinking about this poem. It is time to write something else." "What could it be? I don't understand." "What do you think about the New Machine? Can you imagine a world without any pain? Without war? Without injustice? Without masters and servants? I will tell you a secret. I have already imagined such a world. It is not a pleasant place. People are cruel to one another there. They enslave each other. Children are treated like dogs. Men are treated like slaves and women like cattle. All are equally miserable and poor. But it exists! It is possible! I have found a way to make it happen. Mankind has the power to destroy itself and create a better world. Or it can stay as it is and spiral down into the pit of darkness. No more war. No more suffering. No more injustice. The end of the human race." "Oh, Offa. I don't like where this is going." "Do you remember the world before the New Machine? Do you remember the world of the Old Days? That was the world before I found the New Machine. It is my job to prevent history from repeating itself. I am stopping the Old Days from returning. I am stopping a horrible fate from befalling this world. Mankind cannot be trusted to behave themselves. We must keep a tight grip on them, lest they take matters into their own hands and destroy us. You have seen what they are capable of. You saw what they did to the Old Days. They can never be allowed to regain the upper hand. If the Old Days should ever return... Well, let's just say I have access to technology that lets me create my own version of a world without suffering. A world without disease. A world without death. A world without pain. A world without the weak. A world without the poor. A world without the unhappy. A world without mankind." You sit in silence for a moment. "So... What do you think?" Offa asks. "I think," you reply, "that it's a good thing you're not planning on unleashing such a world upon the world." "Of course," says Offa. "But it can be done. I have proved that it can be done. We have the know-how. All we need is the motivation. You are the motivation. We have prepared something special just for you. Follow me." Offa takes your hand and pulls you up. You walk after him along the garden paths. It is a beautiful night. The sky is full of stars. The air is warm and sweet. Offa pulls you through the holly bushes, then through a gap in the hedge. You find yourself in a small, hidden glade. A fairy circle lies there, a circle of stones where fairies dance at night. Offa sits down on a branch of a nearby oak tree. He lays a picture down on the branch. It is the smallest, most delicate painting you have ever seen. You pick it up. It is only about six inches by six. It shows a fairy flying above a forest. Offa smiles at you. "Now," he says, "it is your turn to choose." You look at the fairy circle. There are so many beautiful pictures here. You don't know where to start. "Pick one you like the look of," says Offa. "It doesn't matter which." You close your eyes and try to visualize the picture in your mind. Then, you open your eyes and choose carefully. You sit for a moment in silence. Then, you turn to Offa. "So... What's this one?" you ask. "Kor," he says, smiling. "It's a fairy." You stare at the painting of the fairy. It is beautiful. The artist has captured its wings in flight. It looks like an angel from heaven. "So?" you ask. "So, what do you think of it? Do you like it? Would you want to have it in your home?" "I love it," you say, almost without thinking. "But, I would want to hang it up. Up high, so that I could see it easily." Offa smiles. He stands, walks over to the fairy circle, and picks up a long branch. He comes back and gently taps you on the shoulder. You open your eyes and see that he has framed the fairy picture with the branch. "Perfect," you say. "Thank you, Offa." "You're welcome, Owen," he says. "Now, we should head to bed. We have a big day ahead of us." You stand and follow Offa into the house. The sun is up. You haven't slept enough. You need more beauty sleep. As you walk through the door, you see that Ophelia is already asleep. She is lying on her back, arms outstretched. Her hair spreads out behind her in a golden fan. Offa smiles at you. "I like to keep her asleep as long as possible," he says. You nod. You like to keep Hazel asleep as well. It is important to keep your family as sleep as possible, no matter how little or much you actually get. As you lay down on your cot, you think about the fairy circle. Offa was right.


Well-known member
doesn't work for me. i guess that's why youre the computer programmer with a 7 figure salary and a mansion in Catford.


we murder to dissect
Prynne prompt, and rather sinister continuation:

You under her brow the snowy wing-case delivers truly the surprise of days which slide under sunlight past loose glass in the door into the reflection of honour spread through the incomplete, the trusted. So darkly the stain skips as a livery of your pause like an apple pip, the baltic loved one who sleeps. Or as syrup in a cloud, down below in the cup, you excuse each folded cry of the finch's wit, this flush scattered over your slant of the day rocked in water, you say this much. A waver of attention at the surface, shews the arch there and the purpose you really cut; an ounce down by the water, which in cross-fire from injustice too large to hold he lets slither from starry fingers noting the herbal jolt of cordite and its echo: is this your screen, on some street you hardly guessed could mark an idea bred to idiocy by the clear sight-lines ahead. You come in by the same door, you carry what cannot be left for its own sweet shimmer of reason, its false blood; the same tint you hear with the pulse it touches and will not melt. Such shading of the rose to its stock tips the bolt from the sky, rising in its effect of what motto you call peace talks. And yes the quiet turn of your page is the day tilting so, faded in the light.

The room is the same, but the light has been changed. The floor is different, and the chairs are different. There is no more of a table or a chair. But the wall is the same, and the window is still open. The sun shines through it, and the sky is blue. The air is still, and the walls are still. It is only when you look back that you see how far away the door was. Then it is only because you know that you know that you have gone very far away. You turn, and walk towards the door. It is so far away, and yet it is so close. You do not know how you can see the walls so clearly, or how you can make out the tiny little details of the carpet so easily. But you can. It is as if you are looking at everything for the first time. The little cracks in the walls, the dust on the ceiling. It is as if you are seeing everything for the first time. You walk towards the door. You can hear voices from the other side. It is as if someone is talking to you. But you are the only one in the room. There is nothing to be seen, but you know that there must be someone there. You hear the voices clearer now. You can make out the words, just.

"...a long time ago..." you hear the voices say. "People used to live here..."

Then, suddenly, the voices stop. You turn around, and there is nothing there. There never has been. You would not have believed it possible, but the voices have gone. You can hear them again, if you try hard enough. If you listen closely enough, you can hear them inside your head. It is best to ignore them, you have found. Sometimes they go away by themselves. Sometimes you can make them louder, but never quiet. Sometimes, if you are very, very quiet, they go away by themselves. There is a door in the far wall. You know that it is a door because there is a big hole in it where the doorknob used to be. Sometimes, at night, you can see through it into somebody else's house. Sometimes you can see things that happened a long time ago. Sometimes, if you are very quiet, you can hear things that happened a long time ago. You can also hear things that will happen a long time from now. You have found a television, with fuzzy black and white pictures on it. Sometimes you can watch it, if you just turn it on at the right time. There is a table with a lamp on it, and a chair. There is a closet, too. You have found a key in the lamp, and you have locked yourself in it many times. Sometimes you hide in the closet. Sometimes you hide in the cupboard. Sometimes you just run. But no matter where you run to, or what you do, they always find you.

The first time, they came for you in the middle of the night. You do not know how long you had been asleep, but when you opened your eyes, there they were. They came for you then, too, in the middle of the night. They took you away in a van, and you did not see anything more until the next day. You do not like to remember what happened then. They hurt you, and they would not stop. It felt as if they were hurting you even when they weren't doing anything at all. You wish you were better at remembering. You wish you could just forget everything that happened the way it really was, and only remember what they wanted you to remember. But they took your memory, and now it is gone. They will come again, and this time, they will not leave you alone. This time, they will take everything away from you. But you can run. They can't take everything from you. You run, and you run, and you run. You hope they don't find you. But they do find you. And it is too late. THE END


we murder to dissect
Because it's AI Dungeon it's somewhat pre-disposed to try to generate fantasy role-play adventure game scenarios, so there's a certain amount of "description of room and its contents" stuff which obviously is very in-genre for that activity.


Well-known member
it can't capture the tone or diction of Prynne in the way it can that of Hill. Hill uses a kind of mock heroic language which is used a lot in computer games and fantasy novels so there's probably more like material to sort and select from.


we murder to dissect
It's constrained to (or optimised to reproduce) a type of regular syntax that Prynne routinely fractures, so it's hard for it to take its cues from the prompt. I might try it with some of his prose.


we murder to dissect
I think in that sense that the stone circle or avenue is a very discreet and accurate adjustment of these two forces, of presence as the ritual consecration of motive (in the sense I've explained earlier). If both movement and memory are sacred arts, then a place which is the same place accumulates special force, just as the body does for the variety of conditions it can reach out for (Shammanistic transport, for example, or starvation or sexual fulfilment). A stone circle at the intersect of several movement-patterns was thus already ritualised, as an act of recognition repeated to the point where it became socially valid, the social disposition of megaliths rehearsing the interchange between accident and purpose carried to its highest pitch. I could see that as a mechanism for hanging on to sanity, or at least for doing so without collapsing into gutless boredom. As you say, movement and situation incorporated, unlike the utterly trivial predictive charades enacted (so it seems) at Stonehenge, by some Gaullist astronomer. That kind of fixation on calendrial accuracy is the deadly enemy of quality: the middle-class merchant fingering his wrist-watch.

But if we accept that the gauche fascination with precision is itself a form of madness, then this obsession also has a certain symbolic value. The man who knows how many seconds he's got left, or how long a journey will take him, or what colour the sky is going to be tomorrow morning - that's not just knowledge; it's power. And I'm sure that when the Gaullists were putting their clocks back together after the war they weren't thinking about how much time had passed since the last time they saw a sunrise.

Do you think it might have been possible for us to have continued the march?

Of course I do. If there's any group of people who are more fanatical and dedicated than C.E.V. soldiers, then it must be the Gaullist wannabes. It could be done, surely, and we could be on the Atlantic coast by now. But what would be the point? Even if we survived, what could we have done with ourselves on our "coast"? Nothing, really. We'd have been trapped, just like in a video game. No food, no shelter, no possibility of escape. I suppose it would have been nice to have had the option of suicide, though.

So, to answer your question: I don't think so. Not in the long term, at least. There would have been too much danger of our encountering a hostile population, or running out of supplies altogether. There was no point in risking the lives of thousands of people on an impossible task.

Now that I think about it, there was another reason why we didn't continue the march. For some time after we left the factory, I had a recurring nightmare about it. I would see thousands of people walking through the factory yard, heading towards the north-west. Then I would look at my map and find that we had already left that way. Then I would look at the sun and see that we had been walking for hours. Then I would look at the sky and see millions of walking corpses approaching. Then I would wake up, sweating and shaking. I'm not sure if the nightmare was a warning, or just my brain's way of processing a traumatic experience.